14. December 2018
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Niko Niko Calendar

Today alternative management ways of thinking are rising. Peopleware in general and Management 3.0, in particular, quite important nowadays, have changed the focus on the people. This leads to a need for new key indicators that measure the current health and performance of a company.

One of those indicators is the happiness (mood) of the employees, which has been proved to tightly affect other key aspects like:

  • Productivity
  • Quality of the job done
  • Engagement with the company, which is extremely important nowadays because of the lack of qualified people

But how can such a subjective indicator be measured? The Niko Niko Calendar can help you.


The word Niko comes from Japanese and means “smile” while doubling this word in Japanese “niko-niko” is closer to “smiley” so Niko Niko Calendar measures the number of “smiley” in a period of time.

The way in which it works is by posting a physical calendar in a visible place for the team. For example, close to the outdoor of the office, where every employee will graphically fill in its mood at the end of the working day.

[Niko2] Niko Niko Calendar

This can be done in different ways: simply hand-drawn or by using some kind of colored sticker. The original Niko Niko suggests three states of mood indicated with the following three colors (the colors and their meaning could change):
  • Blue for a sad/bad day (no matter the reason)
  • Red for neutral day
  • Yellow for a happy/good day

Although, when Niko Niko is adapted, more than three states of mood could be defined, it is recommended to use only three to keep it simple.

The use of the Niko Niko calendars over time can reveal patterns in the mood of the team or individual members. As an example, let’s have a look at the following Niko-Niko calendars:

Case A

Case B

Case C

Case D

In the previous images you can see four different patterns, each of them with a different meaning:

  • In case A, it can be observed that the whole team was in a bad mood on Thursday. So maybe it is interesting to know what happened that day and if it could be fixed/improved.
  • In case B, it can be observed that a particular person was in a bad mood for the whole week. Maybe a good opportunity to ask this person if something can be done for him
  • In case C, there are no changes, so are people telling the truth?
  • Finally, in case D, it can be seen that everybody but one person had a bad week. Although one person had a good mood, there is something happening, so it would be necessary to talk to the team to know the reason of that mood. Reasons why only one person is happy could be that he/she is working on an isolated part of the project or that week he/she was in another office not suffering directly the problems.

From the previous data, it is possible to identify that something remarkable happened one day or week to one person or to the whole team. The Niko-Niko creates transparency for those situations and now it is possible to look for solutions. This is why it is so important that people (not only responsible people, for example, the team lead, but also any other person from the team is more than welcome) pay regular attention to the Niko Niko calendar and its changes so that actions can be taken.

Different examples of those of incidences could be:

  • The typical ones are those related to the normal daily work of the project such as an issue with technology or a close deadline that put the whole team under pressure.
  • However, there can be other ones related to personal situations such as problems among the people inside a team or the motivation for the current project or simply a personal situation that is affecting his/her day.

Difference actions/measures can be taken related to the previous examples from different stakeholders (sometimes project’s colleagues can help although most of the times need to be done by someone responsible):

  • Manage the scope of the deadlines. Depends on the kind of methodology used, this can be dealt with not only by one manager but also by the team as a whole.
  • If the problem is related to a lack of knowledge, it is possible to organize/attend different courses done by some experience colleague or externally
  • If there are problems related to lack of motivation of the project for a person, try to find a new project where this person can fit.

As it was commented before, Niko Niko only can identify that something is happening inside the team, but of course, this is useless unless someone cares about it. This person not only has to look at the calendar but also, in the end, has to talk to the people implied so that the real problem can be known and understood and finally the appropriate measures can be taken.


For the last two years, the Granada Branch has been using a Niko Niko calendar. As you can see, we use a different color scheme, that better suits our needs (green for happy/good, blue for neutral and red for sad/bad). Look at the image below:

Current Niko Niko Calendar

Main Door Niko Niko Panel

One remarkable thing is the commitment people have to fill this information in every day in a trusted way. Moreover, it has become a habit. Although everybody was told about the importance of filling Niko Niko in, it started as a game where someone had to pay a little fine if he/she forgot doing it (only ten cents into our beloved piggy box)

Piggy box

Well, let’s be honest, we take any opportunity to collect money that we afterward spend on having drinks together.

As the number of employees has grown in the office, the way in which Niko Niko is collected has evolved to a more sophisticated one. Also, we have introduced team/project specific Niko Niko charts.

As time has passed, it has been even elaborated graphical statistics about the evolution of the mood every month, so we can even identify trends for the whole office. At the beginning of every month, some colleagues, known as the “Niko Niko” team, collect the information of the previous month from the calendar and introduce it into difference excel sheets so that the different calculations can be made. Afterward, the different reports are sent by e-mail and placed at the same place as Niko Niko calendar, so that it is also visible for everyone.

Niko Niko report 1

Niko Niko report 2

After using Niko Niko calendar for the last two years, it can be said that it has helped us to identify potential individual or team problems and take actions to fix (or ease) them. However, also with Niko Niko calendar, not all problems are easy to find nor to fix.


Lately, some colleagues are working remotely more often and other ones are also working from other offices of the company. Despite the fact that those employees asked someone to fill in the Niko Niko for them, the necessity of using a digital tool has been identified. We agreed that we will switch to using a digital tool from now on as another benefit is that it will simplify calculations and analytics. This is why we are currently developing a tool that can help us to deal with the current situation of the members of the office and ease the calculations that Niko Niko team does. We will find out about the pros and cons of a digital Niko Niko and share the outcome at a later point.


To sum it up, nowadays, the most important value companies have is the people that work for them and the happiness of their employees is a key indicator that deserves to be measured. The Niko Niko calendar can help you to measure such a subjective indicator. Will you try it?


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